Running Windows or Linux - Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)

Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)


Running Windows or Linux

Many people need to run Windows applications and the Mac is a great computer for running Windows. This section shows you various options for installing Windows on a Mac. You can run other operating systems as well, such as Linux, and we will have a look at how you get Linux up and running on the Mac.

Running Windows on the Mac

Because Macs use Intel chips you can run Windows on the Mac using a variety of methods:

•Boot Camp


•Other methods, e.g. CrossOver

Boot Camp allows you to boot the Mac directly into Windows, which effectively makes the Mac a PC. If you want true Windows functionality and speed this is arguably the best option to use.

If you choose virtualization (Parallels or VMWare Fusion), you create a Windows partition on your Mac hard drive and run Windows from there, making Windows a virtual computer. You can run Mac and Windows apps side-by-side.

There are alternative solutions on offer (e.g. CrossOver, or which let you run Windows apps on the Mac, but the Mac will not behave quite like a PC and this is probably the least satisfactory solution.


For the first two options you will need to buy a copy of Windows to install on the Mac, since these are not supplied by Apple or third parties.


If you want to run Windows smoothly on the Mac, especially with the virtualization option, make sure you have plenty of RAM! The more you have, the better the experience will be.

Boot Camp

This is the method that lets you run Windows pretty much as if you are using a PC rather than a Mac. The Boot Camp installer is located in your Utilities folder.

Installing Boot Camp

imageGo to Utilities > Boot Camp Assistant


imageRun the app and follow the instructions



Decide whether you want a bootable version of Windows on USB

You may not need this, but if you want a version of Windows that can boot from USB, select this option and follow the instructions.


Make sure there is a USB drive attached to your Mac, and Boot Camp Assistant will format the USB drive.

Boot Camp Assistant will let you set up the Windows partition to the size you choose. Decide on the partition size you want, then use the slider to set this up.


You will then be asked to insert your Windows installer disk and will be taken through the setup as you would on any PC.

Boot into Windows at startup

You must tell the Mac which OS you want to start up in. When you start the Mac, hold down the Option key and you will see the Mac and the Windows drives. Use the arrow keys then hit Enter to boot up into either Mac or PC.


Once booted into Windows, your Mac will look like a regular PC.



This is a complicated subject, but in essence, virtualization software lets you run Windows or another operating system alongside Mac OS X. You can run in full screen mode so your Mac will look like a PC but the speed may not be quite as good as it would be under Boot Camp.

PC gaming

If you want to play PC games, virtualization is not such a good option (install Boot Camp if gaming is your thing).

Importing an existing Boot Camp partition

If you already have a Boot Camp version of Windows you may be able to import this into VMWare Fusion or Parallels if you decide you no longer want to be forced into booting into either Windows or Mac at startup.

Two main contenders


•VMWare Fusion

VMWare Fusion


Parallels Virtualization

You can view a virtual PC in several ways:


imageWindows Desktop running alongside Mac

imageFull screen (you cannot see Mac Desktop)

imageCoherence (Windows Desktop disappears but you can launch PC apps and run them ON the Mac Desktop)

Below, you can see the Windows 7 Desktop running on top of the Mac Desktop (Parallels).


If you prefer not to see the Mac Desktop you can enter full screen where Windows takes over the entire screen. Through sharing you can still access your Mac files and folders.


If you want to see only the Mac Desktop but you still want to run Windows apps, you can use Coherence, which hides the PC side of things but still gives you full access to the Windows Start menu, and all of its apps.

VMWare Fusion Views

You can run the same views in VMWare Fusion: single window (where you see Mac and Windows Desktops together), full screen or Unity (where the Windows Desktop is hidden but you can still run Windows apps).

Single window

The PC window runs on top of the Mac OS X window.


Full screen

In this view, the Mac Desktop is hidden and Windows takes over the screen completely.


Installing Linux

Linux is another operating system which can run on the Mac. Although it uses a Desktop and icons it is less intuitive than OS X or Windows. But Linux is “open source” which means that unlike OS X or Windows you can obtain this free of charge, in various versions. Much of the software that runs on Linux is also open source. If you are on a budget and want to save lots of money you might consider installing Linux.

Installing Linux (Ubuntu version)

imageFormat a USB drive (Mac OS X journaled format)

imageDownload Ubuntu Desktop ( Choose either 32-or 64-bit

imageOnce downloaded, copy the ISO file from your Download folder to the USB drive. Alternatively, you could copy the ISO file to a CD


imageOpen VMWare Fusion and go to File > New

imageFollow the on-screen instructions

imageClick Continue

imageClick Install from disc or image


imageClick Continue then Choose Operating System (e.g. Ubuntu 64-bit)


imageVMWare will recognize the OS as LINUX 64-bit if you chose this option

imageClick Continue Easy Install

imageEnter a password and confirm this

imageMake sure the Virtual Machine can Read and Write. Click Continue

imageVMWare will download the tools necessary to support Linux. Click Download


imageWhen you see the Finish window click Finish


imageChange the name of the Virtual Machine if you wish to

imageUbuntu will now boot up in a new window and install all the necessary software

Running Ubuntu (Linux)

As with VMWare (or Parallels) running Windows, you can run Ubuntu in single window mode (on top of Mac Desktop), full screen, or Unity.

Here is the newly-installed Ubuntu in full screen mode


A number of apps are preinstalled with Ubuntu. The image below shows the free word processor, which is powerful and compatible with Microsoft Word.


The Ubuntu Software Center is like the app store, with many apps that you can install.


System Settings

You can change many of the features, as you would with System Preferences in OS X using the System Settings panel.


Viewing files

Files and folders can be viewed in much the same way as using Finder in OS X or File Manager in Windows. Click the folder icon on the left of the screen to bring up the File Viewer.


File Viewer window